Hereth A, 21, Washington D.C., Born in Bolivia
I came to the nation’s capitol in 2001 with my grandparents and my little sister just before the attacks on the Pentagon and the Twin Towers on 9/11. We had left the cultural violence of Bolivia only to bear witness to this tragedy. I was only eight when we moved in with my aunt, who had come to America in the 1990s. I overstayed my tourist visa and have been here ever since. My mom and dad were still in Bolivia and finally made it to the States four years later. Since their arrival, I now have another sister who was born here. I’m lucky to be surrounded by my immediate family but most of the family is still in Bolivia. My father was almost deported last year but our community rallied and the judge granted him a deferment. It’s a very scary situation – never knowing when my family may be torn apart.
When President Obama announced DACA, I was working for the National Education Association as its first undocumented intern. It became my job to educate others about DACA and to help with their paperwork. Before I applied, I acted as a liaison between Dreamers and various nonprofits and volunteer attorneys. Learning on the job and talking to experts, I was eventually able to complete my application on my own. However, I didn’t have the money to file and this seemed an insurmountable obstacle until my aunt came through with funding for me. DACA gave me a future – an opportunity to attend college, to get a work permit, driver’s license and Social Security card. I took a year off school to save enough for college and have gotten a scholarship through TheDream.Us which specifically helps Dreamers who have received DACA. I’m studying International Affairs at Trinity College and will graduate in December 2015. I’m fortunate to be living up to the ideals taught me about being brave, working hard and giving back to my community.